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Great article from Maddie Crum on Huff Post about e-books vs. print. The article lists the following as research-based reasons that print is still preferred for most readers.

Do any of these resonate with you? Can you share a story supporting or contradicting any of these findings?

What say you?

1. Younger people are more likely to believe that there's useful information that's only available offline.

2. Students are more likely to buy physical textbooks.

3. Students opt for physical copies of humanities books, even when digital versions are available for free.

4. This isn't just true of textbooks. Teens prefer print books for personal use, too.

5. Students don't connect emotionally with on-screen texts.

6. ... And they comprehend less of the information presented in digital books.

7. It's not just students opting for print. Parents and kids prefer to read physical books together, too.

8. Which makes sense, because ebooks can negatively impact your sleep.

9. ... And it's hard to avoid multitasking while reading digital books.

Read the complete article, including references, here:


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Absolutely true! Students do not like reading books online. I purchased ereaders and many titles in ebook format for them and instead, students want print! Go figure, our digital natives don't want digital!

I can't speak for anyone else but each statement of "truth" is not true for me. I prefer ebooks because I can carry them with me all the time, tons of them/ Even when I had no idea that I might have a few minutes to read my books are always readily available.

 As I write this post I am sitting with my feet up staring at a bookshelf too full of books. I often think our whole floor might have collapsed if ebooks had not rescued us. I am not a patient person and in a world without ebooks I was often miserable waiting, in a doctors office, at the dentist, for a friend, for my family. Happily I can now endure waiting for anything because all my books are with me. 

When I go on a trip I carry my whole library. I never lose a book or misplace it. I have no trouble connecting with the reading and when there is a word a don't comprehend, help is immediate. Horray for ebooks I want no other kind.

Interestingly, there are so few free ebooks readily available to young students. When I go to sites that claim to have them, my computer warns me that they are dangerous sites. I can find tons of free books for me but few for young readers. That is truly just too bad.

I agree with Carole that there are no truths in the field of reading eBooks.The Pew research is really  about people's impressions and the Huffington Post uses those survey results to add an air of "truth." I also agree that eBook provide a sense of mobility that is impossible with books. Having said that, our students are still adjusting to eBook technology after having learned to read using conventional books. There is some evidence that eBooks are better for some types of reading than others, but the evidence is limited. Here are my observations of students here at Choate in the context of the many treatises on eBooks I have seen.

  1. Some researchers in the areas of phonemic awareness, decoding, and comprehension suggest that one has to learn to read an eBook just as we learn to read a conventional book, and the two processes are different for our brains.

  2. Some of my students claim that reading textbooks and other reference sources on an eBook is okay, but they do not enjoy reading novels or lengthy analytical nonfiction pieces in digital form. I would echo their sentiments for complex plots. The characteristics of conventional books (feel of the paper, relative position of text on a page or within the book, etc.) makes it easier to go back and find a passage.

  3. The notion of an eBook reader has changed. When Will began this Ning an eBook was a special purpose device that was designed for reading. While I still have a Kindle, I note that very few of my students own them. Most have a tablet device such as an iPad, and the reading experience is quite different, even with the Kindle or iBooks apps.

  4. Since the advent of iBooks and other media-rich eBook reader platforms, I have wondered what constitutes a book. Are embedded videos, simulations, audios, and photo galleries part of a book or something else we haven't names yet?

  5. We are in the early stages of eBook technology. Ten years ago, the MIT Media Lab was experimenting with true digital paper -- pulp that contained digital circuitry. The work faded into the background when the Kindle and Nook appeared, but I have to think it will return at some point. the idea was that we would each own one nice casebound book containing real pages that could be downloaded with different texts from our library in the cloud. How about that!

I really think that #1 is the key. Unfortunately, i haven't met any eBook reading teachers yet.

I agree that I find the farther we get into the digital reading age, the more I treasure my print books. Digital reading technology is so "contingent"; lots of things have to be in place for it to work (is my battery charged?, is the wifi working?, is this screen backlit for reading in sub-optimal lighting?). That paperback I want to read requires only that I can find it and see it.

I don't think this is true of younger people....or older people.  Some people respond better to print/paper books.  Others prefer electronic books....age has little to do with it.  I'd be more likely to agree with left-brain/right-brain grouping than by age.

I personally LOVE to read electronically.  I like having the dictionary available at a tap and I don't have to worry about my electronic highliter drying out.  If I want to research a topic elsewhere to check for validity, I can do that instantly.

So my reactions:

1.  The students I know are more likely to believe the information is more useful/up-to-date online

2.  Only likely to buy physical textbooks if they don't have a reader available

3.  Nonsense.  College students especially will take free first.

4.  I might agree with this one because it's easier to share a paperback

5.  What's your source for this data?  Readers connect with the story - who cares how it's delivered?

6.  Only if they're scanning and not reading

7. It's the cuddle factor.  You can cuddle with an iPad or a Nook, too.

8.  I read myself to sleep with my iPad every night - doesn't impact my sleep at all.  Really.  I'm a good sleeper.

9.  Don't tell me you don't multi-task when reading a paperback, magazine, etc. (Turn off the TV, put down that cup of coffee and READ!)

I love your passionate push-back! It is interesting that the article in the Guardian (about the lack of emotional connection) demonstrates the fragmented nature of research on this topic. I know I saw research supporting the idea that the synesthetic qualities of reading a print book somehow increases readers awareness and alertness during reading--will try to find. I agree wholeheartedly that distraction is distraction, no matter how you are consuming text.


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